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  • Tue, July 02, 2019 11:00 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    When I was a kid I first heard the expression that “you can't fight City Hall,” and the older I get, I find that to be the truth. Examples are found everywhere in life; two that are hitting home particularly to the mobile amusement industry involve the H-2B foreign Visa work problem and the battle over the content of an AT&T telephone advertisement.

    The OABA and other organizations have fought relentlessly but to no avail, so far, to obtain their objectives. The H-2B deal is strictly political, and the eventual outcome is nebulous. In the meantime, let's hope carnival employers are able to find the necessary workers to help them do their jobs.   

    I received a note from Charma Wilderson, General Manager – Amusements, Safe-Strap Company, LLC, Ft. Myers, Florida, regarding the second subject. Here's what she had to say: “I'm fairly sure you are aware (but just in case you are not) - - AT&T has been running a stream of commercials regarding 'Just OK' services are not OK for several months now. But they have been running one frequently most recently regarding a carnival ride and operator that really puts the mobile industry in a bad light. It feeds into the misguided belief of the general population about carnivals being “shifty.”

    “I'm not sure if anything can be done about it – but I wanted to let you know that I found it disturbing at best and wanted to share my thoughts with someone that may have connections or information as to how those of us who do find it offensive can voice our thoughts. Thank you for taking the time to read my correspondence. Wishing all of our traveling shows a brilliant, safe and successful season!!”

    I reached back to Charma, thanked her for her comments and asked for a little more information about her firm. She said “Safe Strap Company has been manufacturing web-based safety restraints for the amusement industry since 1983. We specialize in customizing ride belts and all class restraints, and supplying belts to end users as well as manufacturers.” Phil Tomber, head of Rio Syrup Company, St. Louis, and a major stockholder in AT&T, vowed to take up the fight when this battle first arose. While watching television last night, June 29th, that goofy looking kid masquerading as a ride boy, was still telling two shocked customers that when accidents occur, the carnival just moves on to the next town.  AT&T has used a similar tactic with the medical profession, showing a doctor who maintains he has just been reinstated and is not worried about an upcoming operation he is expected to perform. My point goes back to my childhood that what I heard then was correct. You can't fight City Hall. 

    We are getting into the height of the fair season with the San Diego County Fair, Del Mar, about to end and draw approximately 2 million people. Other events are ready to get going. Ronnie, Kim, Butch and Ann Netterfield had a fun time at the Florida Fair Convention in St. Augustine before getting ready to start work for another season at the 12th Annual RockStock Music Festival in Muskegon, Michigan, July 3-7. Darrell Desgranges, the Mizuno Golf Pro and Brad Coombs of Meridian Entertainment, Traverse City, Michigan, booked the talent for this event, which is adding a carnival midway for the first time. Desgranges said it will be a combination of Arnold Amusements and TJ Schmidt Amusements with Tommy Arnold and David Starkey more or less in charge. I had spoken to Starkey, who played a spot in Lake Odessa, Michigan, with Bob Hallifax Amusements on his way to Muskegon. Starkey mentioned that his pal, Harold Case, was a bit under the weather, but would be there as well. When I called to check on Case and his wife Debbie, he said gathering his strength to move seven trucks the 1,400 mile distance to Michigan was the toughest he ever made. When I asked Desgranges about the talent headliners lined up, he mentioned Puddle of Mudd, and I'm sure he could almost hear me stammer when I asked who else. He answered Tantric, Saliva and Trapt. Almost apologetically he then pointed out that his son Glenn, working for Live Nation, had booked Willie Nelson and Allison Krauss for a June 25th sellout at Freedom Hill in Sterling Heights, Michigan. He also added that Glenn booked a Hoedown in Detroit on June 15th with Brantley Gilbert, where Garth Brooks made a surprise performance and performed for an hour. When I cracked jokingly that they had spared no expense for Muskegan, Desgranges said Puddle of Mudd has sold more than 7 million albums and had 5 number one hits on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Song Chart, including “Psycho” in 2008. When I mentioned the acts to my 57 year old daughter, Alice Stanley, who is helping me with this dictation while I'm trying to get over a bout with gout, she confirmed these acts were bigger than I thought they were. What do I know? Butch and Ann Netterfield, by the way, celebrated their 53rd wedding anniversary on June 25, and his 74th birthday at Eddie V's in Tampa – they were wed in Olivet, Michigan. Other venues where Desgranges and Brad Coombs book the talent include the Central Carolina Fair in Greensboro, NC, at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex beginning Friday, September 7th and running through the 16th; the Buffalo Chips Festival in Sturgis, South Dakota, running from August 2–11, and the Arkansas State Fair, Little Rock, running October 11–20. 

    There was plenty of reaction to the column I wrote about the death of my special friend of 61 years, Johnny Hobbs. Desgranges said it had been on his bucket list for years to come and visit Johnny at his Nashville Palace, which he owned for 35 years. Dan Kroeger, CEO/Chairman of Gold Medal Products, Cincinnati, and former longtime Treasurer of OABA wrote, “You could feel the love you had for your friend John from that article. What a tremendous tribute! We are fortunate to be part of such a great industry.  Bob Anderson, formerly with National Ticket Company of Shamokin, Pennsylvania, wrote, “Thanks again for your always awesome columns. I'm sorry to read about Johnny Hobbs. I know how close you were to him and one by one, it seems as though our friends and relatives are leaving us. I suppose it's the price we pay for aging.” Charlie Cox of Cox Food Concessions, Perry, Georgia, Columbus, Ohio, and Tampa, Florida, wrote, “I knew him through you. I can't imagine any two people who were better friends than you and John. I spent hours listening to Ed Gregory (true or not) tell stories about you, Hobbs, Jim Ed Brown, the Opry and all the stars. I enjoyed many times going to Backstage at the Opry and then to the Nashville Palace. Those were great times and I thank all the old-timers for blazing the trails for us to enjoy.” 

    Many years ago on one of my first trips with Monsignor Robert J. McCarthy, the Carny priest from Watertown, New York, I met one of the most fascinating showmen I have ever known, Roland Koch, a well-known entrepreneur at Octoberfest in Munich, Germany, the Cannsfest in Stuttgart and other Christmas festivals, amusement parks, fairs, and anything having to do with entertainment in Germany. Through Bill Alter of National Ticket.  I even got to know him and his wife, Renate, better, along with his son, Thomas, and best friend, Rudolph Barth, at the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions Conventions. Barth owned the only five looping rollercoaster in the world. He spoke little English and every time I interviewed him, Koch interpreted. Roland was known for his famous parties at Kafer's in Munich, which drew industry heavy-weights from all over the globe. I heard from him in an email last month in which he said, “It is good to know you are in good shape and still involved with the carnival and park people. When I look back, I remember when I came as a member to the Showmen's League of America Convention. Patty Conklin brought me to Chicago in 1969, and at this time I was very busy in the fairs in Germany, when you remember, I was the host in Stuttgart for your 50th birthday party. Maybe I will see you and Christine in Orlando. All the best and here are my addresses and phone numbers, regards, Roland.” It truly is a big and small world. 

    I apologize for no column last week, but as I mentioned earlier, the gout made it unable for me to type. 

    Please send news to tomp@oaba.org, or call 615-280-7257.

    Have a great Fourth of July celebration, and God Bless!

  • Thu, June 27, 2019 3:46 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)


    The top 3 federal bills pushed by the animal rights agenda to oppose and write your representative about are:

    TEAPSPA - HR 2863 - Traveling Exotic Animal and Public Safety Protection Act
    - This bill is designed to end all traveling animal acts, including educational ones. The list of prohibited animals of course includes lions, tigers, bears, and elephants but also turtles, monitor lizards, and camels. This would be absolutely devastating to thousands of animals and the people caring for them across the United States.

    PAST - HR 693 - Prevent all soring tactics act - While no one is supporting the act of horse soring, the way this bill is written would not prevent or help eradicate the practice of horse soring. Instead it would disable the Tennessee Walking Horse industry in the United States by creating more government overreach without any applicability thus rendering USDA inspectors ineffective at regulating the problem. And it doesn’t stop there - it would also affect the Racking Horse and the Spotted Saddle Horse breeds.

    PPA - HR 2442 - Puppy Protection Act - This bill, under the guise of instilling stricter animal welfare laws, actually has prohibitive rules written within the standards for housing, temperature guides, among other requirements. It is best left up to dog professionals such as the AKC and others to set these standards, not animal rights groups.

    More legislative news here >>>

  • Fri, June 21, 2019 12:47 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    Posted on Tuesday, June 11, 2019 in 
    Latest NewsLatest News RSSHomepage - Featured News

    Rodeo Renews Carnival Midway Contract with RCS The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo announced a multi-year contract renewal with RCS, the Rodeo’s carnival midway provider since 1994.

    “We are excited to continue our partnership with RCS, a leader in the carnival midway industry that continues to offer our visitors a variety of unique rides, games and food that appeals to all ages,” said Joel Cowley, president and CEO of the Rodeo. “RCS has a long-standing commitment to safety, innovation and customer service, providing our guests with a truly memorable carnival experience.”

    RCS has been providing carnival entertainment to fairs and guests since 1961, serving some of the most prominent fairs and festivals across the country, including Coachella, Stagecoach Festival, the Arizona State Fair, the LA County Fair and the Orange County Fair, among others.

    “We are thrilled to be returning to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. We love serving the community of Houston and are honored to be a part of this great event that is so important for the youth of Texas,” said Guy Leavitt, president and CEO of RCS.

    During the 2019 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, held Feb. 25 – March 17, the carnival midway featured more than 80 rides and 45 games, with more than 2.5 million rides taken throughout the annual event.

    RCS debuted five new rides at the 2019 Rodeo, while also bringing back many fan favorites. The most popular rides were Skyride, Ice Jets, Crazy Coaster and the La Grande XL. Approximately 70,000 riders enjoyed 360-degree views of the Rodeo grounds from the La Grande XL. The luxurious Ferris wheel made its debut at the 2017 Rodeo and marked the biggest single purchase in RCS history.

    In addition, approximately 600,000 prizes were won at the carnival and several unique food items were unveiled, including Hot Crunchy Cheetos Cotton Candy, Fruity Pebbles Shrimp Po’Boy Sandwich and Caramel Crack Fries. Deep Fried Oreos remained a popular staple among this year’s Rodeo-goers, with approximately 376,000 Oreos consumed.

    RCS will return to Houston for the 2020 World’s Championship Bar-B-Que Contest, Feb. 27 – 29, and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, March 3 – March 22.

  • Thu, June 20, 2019 4:31 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    I'm not sure if I'm so tired today because of watching the Boston Red Sox lose a 17-inning game to Minnesota last night that didn't end until around 1:30am, or because of two days of mental anguish during the viewing, Mass, burial and wake of John A. Hobbs, my beloved friend of 61 years. 

                Whatever the cause or reason, I'm more tired than usual. Maybe it has something to do with the fact all four of my children were in town to help Christine and me celebrate a beautiful Father's Day, or perhaps, it's simply the fact that in one month, July 18, I'll be 86.            

    Hobbs was 91 and thank goodness, he did not suffer. He was ready to go even though many of us, quite selfishly, I suppose, tried to hold on to him for a little bit longer. The night before he died, he was searching for a baseball game on TV, and his son, Ronnie, called me to find out what stations they might be on. I would often call him late at night and tell him his favorite team, the Dodgers, were on. 

                Over the years, we spent Christmas Eves shopping, sitting in the press box for Notre Dame football games, thanks to my connection with the late Joe Sassano, who ran the Joyce Athletic and Convocation Center, attending at least 20 trade shows of the International Independent Showmen's Association in Gibsonton, Fla., and probably half that number of International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions trade shows in Orlando. Each year, he and our other buddies would purchase all kinds of fake jewelry in Gibtown which they would use to dazzle people back in Nashville. At one park convention, he was so enamored by an electric chair he almost bought one. He did wind up buying a punching bag, which he displayed for years in his front lobby.

                We enjoyed thousands of nights drinking, partying and hobnobbing at his Nashville Palace with every Country music star imaginable, plus the likes of Governor Ray Blanton, Minnesota Fats, Fast Eddie Felson, Jerry Springer, Tommy Lasorda, Billy Russell, Mike Scioscia and his entire Albuquerque baseball team (before he managed the Angels), and his bench coach Mickey Hatcher, who danced with Christine, John McNamara, who managed eight major league teams, and Chicago Bears QB Bill Wade.

    When Springer walked in, he immediately asked that the television set be tuned to ESPN. The former mayor of Cincinnati was a sports fan. I asked politely if he'd pose for a picture with some of the RDs (regular drunks), and he obliged. One of the women, whose name I won't mention, gushed and said that she watched his show every day. Springer, who later that night appeared with Hobbs, by remote on the Jimmy Kimmel show, looked at her and said, “Get a life.”

                Little Jimmy Dickens used to come in and have a couple glasses of wine before appearing on the Grand Ole Opry. Semi-regulars included Jim Ed Brown, Vern (The Voice) Gosdin, Porter Wagoner, Del Reeves, Danny (of The Nashville Brass) Davis, Mel McDaniel, Jimmy C. Newman, Johnny Russell, Ricky Van Shelton, Alan Jackson, Lorrie Morgan, and Randy Travis, whom I spoke to for several minutes before Hobbs' funeral Mass. Travis, known then as Randy Ray, and I have an autographed album to prove it, was a cook and dishwasher there for over three years. I saw Randy once at the Great Allentown, Pa. Fair and he asked about Maxie, Shorty, Mr. Mac, Pigskin Louie, Fast Eddie Paschall, and all the regulars. Then he and his lead guitar player, Rick Wayne, wondered if Hobbs still worried about me getting home safely. Whenever McDaniel would come in the front door, we'd all get up and sing “Stand Up and Testify,” his signature tune.

                Hobbs, who joined the Merchant Marines at the age of 15, was there for the Japanese surrender to General MacArthur. He was a real patriot who asked me to sing the Pearl Harbor song every December 7, which I did for more than 50 years. They played a rousing rendition of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish fight song as the crowd slowly filed out of the church. It was very appropriate. As was a “Mother's Love Is Endless,” by Billy Mangan, who owns Mangan's Irish Pub in Mt. Clemons, Michigan, a place we frequented quite a bit. Mangan, his wife, June, and Tommy and Joanie O'Halloran, who owned the Tipperary Pub in Detroit, made several trips to Ireland with us for Notre Dame-Navy football games. We first met when I was covering the Michigan State Fair.

                John loved being around people. I introduced him to many from the amusement industry. He loved it, particularly carnival people, and whenever many of them passed through Nashville they made it a point to come visit with him and listen to his incredible stories. I believe the last ones I snapped a photo of him with were Jeanette Gilmore and Greg Ruda, Rick Reithoffer, Charles Panacek, Gloria Myers and Lucky Klinger, and the foursome of Bonnie Culpepper, Jo Ann Koza, Mary Jean Leonard, and Barbara Wilson. Hobbs actually had a double wedding with carnival owner Hillman Snyder.

    Johnny became close to Paul (Duke) Smith of Allied Specialty Insurance, George Millay, founder of  Sea World and Wet N Wild, Bryan Wittman, a vice president with the Walt Disney Company, Don Sandefur, who ran the Harlem Globetrotters, Buddy Lee, who booked most of the major Country acts, park owners Dick Knoebel, Albert and Dennis Carollo and  George (Bud) Gilmore of Smokey's Greater Shows, whom we always sat next to during the trade shows. We enjoyed lunch with Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, and drinks and a baseball game with Gene Autry. We were on the field for a Yankees Old-Timers game, and he even visited my hometown of Scranton, Pa., and was hosted royally at Hershey Park by J. Bruce McKinney and Paul Serff.

                When he built the Music Valley Amusement Park, Hobbs brought in ride inspector Joe Culver to manage it. Helping get it off the ground were Michael Wood, Mike Demas, Patrick Sheridan, Joe Bixler, and Kevin Dalton. We spent time in St. Louis with Carl and Roberta Mathis, Theresa Noerper and Ann Sedlmayr of Archway Amusements. When Sam Giordano, who became manager of the State Fair of Louisiana, Shreveport, worked for Rod Link Shows, Sam told Rod he was going to Nashville to see me. When Link asked if he had called, Sam said he knew I'd be with Hobbs at the Nashville Palace.

                Every time Kenny Smith, Rick D'Aprile, Rene and Judy Piche, Jim and Janice Swain were near Nashville, it was a must to see Johnny Hobbs. I've taken pictures of him (always on the job) with the likes of Ed Gregory, who held all his employee parties at the Palace, Milt Kautman, Ray Cammack, Bernard Thomas, Jerry Murphy, Jim Strates, Frank Zaitshik, John (The Peddler) Curtis, Jerry Bohlander, Billy and Sue Clark, James Roy and Petrina Pope, J. D. Floyd, Butch, Kim and Ronnie Netterfield, Billy Baxter, Bobby and Sue Wynn, Claire Morton, Jean Clair, Ed Murphy, Jim Murphy, and so many others.

                When Harold Case and David Starkey entered the door, Hobbs would have a double Crown Royal ready for Harold and a waitress on call for Starkey's order. They once were waiting for a shipment of goldfish at the Greyhound Bus station, so they lingered at The Palace. By the time they had left, the goldfish had died. The regulars loved when Gene (T-Shirt Kelly) Spezia passed through town because he always had tee shirts and other novelty gifts that he passed around generously.

                Hobbs attended all our Polish Picnics at Andy and Ethel Osak's Showtown USA Bar in Gibtown, with Nashville buddies Eddie Paschall, Eddie Bryan, Wayne (Trucker) Beck, Bill (Gun Show) Goodman, Pat Mitchell, Paul Hatfield, and Jack Burns. Also there were Gene McQuater, who had owned McQuater's Greater Shows and kept the picnic going after Osak's death, Father John Vakulskas, Leah O'Neil, Terri Swyear, Marilyn Portemont, Ned and Lori Ludes, Bill Alter, and Umpire Joe West. Monsignor Robert J. McCarthy said several Masses at the Palace, often to the astonishment of those sitting at the bar. John always made sure there was a collection. 

    Dianne Sherrill sang one of John's favorites, “You Are My Sunshine,” which Louisiana Governor Jimmie Davis wrote about and dedicated to his horse of the same name. While in heaven, I'm hoping Hobbs doesn't try to get on that horse and ride. He fell off a motorcycle while he was down here. 

    For anybody I failed to mention, it was not intentional, and if you have a memory of meeting John, let me know. I have many more columns to write. He went on his terms, and that's how I'm ending this.

    (read article in the Nashville Scene about John A. Hobbs here >>>

                Please send news to tomp@oaba.org, or call 615.280.7257.
                Have all great days, and God Bless!

  • Thu, June 20, 2019 4:23 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)


    Oppose ban on all reptile, amphibian, and mammal species which are non-native to the U.S.

    Many thanks to USARK for the call to action on their website.

  • Wed, June 12, 2019 10:31 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    I usually make a phone call to Tony Diaz of North American Midway Entertainment this time of year to check on the show's opening date in Canada, the June 5-9 Brandon, Manitoba, Summer Fair, but on this occasion the tone was more somber, as I had just learned about the death of Diaz's mother, Mary Jane. 

                They say things like this happen in threes, and if that's true, Kenny Detty passed away from a heart attack shortly after I interviewed him after Memorial Day. Then I learned about the passing of Reverend Ruth Turton, 87, whose late husband, Reverend Ron Turton, was The Heavenly Patch.

    Diaz was already at the show's next spot, the Red River Exhibition in Winnipeg, scheduled for June 14-23, where Garth Rogerson has been CEO for 11 years. Tony said his sister, Trudie Andrews had flown to the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, where Mary Jane, 83, had been living, to have her body moved to Tampa. The funeral is tentatively set for Saturday, June 15 at Showmen's Rest in Tampa. Mary Jane was a longtime member of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Greater Tampa Showmen's Association.

                Mary Jane and her late husband, Tony, were married in 1955. They spent the time between 1955 and 1960 on Carl and Egle Sedlmayr's Royal American Shows, where Tony Sr. was a games operator. Tony Jr., 57, was born at the Minnesota State Fair, St. Paul, which was one of the carnival's biggest spots.

                The Diazes then spent several years with Sonny Myers Amusements. Myers had been the sheriff of St. Joseph, Mo., and was the brother-in-law of Bill Dillard. After that they were on Bill Dillard Shows, before joining Gehrie and Norma Aten with their games on Bill Hames Shows. At the time of his death, Tony Sr. had joined his son with Mike Williams on Farrow Shows. It was always a pleasure for me to see both Tonys at spots such as the Indiana State Fair, Indianapolis, as Tony Jr. had the savvy to know who I'd want to take a picture of for Amusement Business, in other words, regulars who traveled with the show, not locals who just came in to work one spot. He kept me from wasting a lot of time.

                After he became a vice president with NAME, Diaz remained one of the most cooperative, and easiest guys to interview for a story. He doesn't embellish what he says, and always points out the key people who help move the show. That includes Wayne Kunz, John Anderson, Scooter Korek, and Michael Hupalo, the safety inspector, who invited me to his wedding in Gibtown before I even knew him.

                “Life is a lot easier and happier when you find yourself working on a daily basis with people like that.” What a great group of guys. Anybody who knows Wayne Kunz will tell you he looks as though he could still play football like Bo Jackson or The Big Hurt, Frank Thomas. I first met Wayne at a date in Louisiana, I believe it was Metairie, and he was working for his dad, Al, the guy who kicked 60 Minutes off his lot. Wayne spent many years with Jim Murphy on Mighty Blue Grass Shows, before joining NAME. In his 80s, and looking fit as a fiddle, he has earned the reputation of being one of the hardest working guys in the carnival business, one of the nicest, as well. I can vouch for both traits.

                While with his dad's Century 21 Shows, I visited Wayne at the Millington Naval Base near Memphis. He kept asking me what looked different about him. I guessed he had lost weight, gained weight, and everything but what the real answer was. He was wearing a wig. After my reaction, I don't believe he ever did again, although his was better than that of the Grand Ole Opry's Hank Snow, hideous.

                Mary Jane maintained a close friendship with many carnival people, most notably, Marilyn Portemont, after both got off the road. Of Brandon, Diaz said it was okay except for Saturday, which is normally the biggest day, when it was cold and wet. After a strong Miami-Dade County Fair, he's optimistic.

                I couldn't believe it when I received phone calls from Joel Golder who owns Palace Playland Amusement Park in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, and Tom Gaylin of Rosedale Attractions and Shows of Baltimore. Both were bearing the news of Detty's demise. Joel made me feel a little better when he said Kenny, 74, had read the column, loved it, and was grateful that I wrote it. Golder wanted to let me know that it had meant a lot to both of them and was a well-deserved tribute to a REAL carnival man. “His only regret was that he left out the name of the James H. Drew Exposition as being one being one of the carnivals he and his wife, Barbara, traveled with,” said Golder. Gaylin said Detty was always very helpful to him when he was chairman of OABA in 2016, especially in matters involving the Carnival Museum in Gibsonton, where Detty was a member of the Board. I believe Gaylin made more sincere efforts than anybody to form a better working relationship with members of the International Independent Showmen's Association than I can recall. He realizes the potential of growth there for the OABA, because I'll guarantee you, most are not OABA members, but should be.

                I remember when The Heavenly Patch hung around Andy and Ethel Osak's Showtown USA Bar in Gibtown, even though he wasn't a drinker. There was a Panama City, Florida, connection among the Turtons, Osaks, Bill and Helen McCoy, Terry and Jo Ellen Erickson, and Bobby Cooper. I remember others who were hanging around what we called Andy's in those days, including Gene (Tee Shirt Kelly)  Spezia, Sonny (World's Greatest Guesser) Lewis, Jolly Jim Conroy, Buster Anderson, Uncle Ben, a guy with a big beard who owned a restaurant in Cherokee, North Carolina, Foster Maples, who (he said) accidentally ran his car through the side of the Showtown bar once, and the incomparable Joe Lane.

    Linda Laughridge, whose dad was Walter Meredith, who owned Walt's Lounge, recalls the McCoys and Osaks booking at Petticoat Junction, an 1880s themed western park. Jo Ellen and Walter were brother and sister, with Helen McCoy their mother, and Bill McCoy, their stepfather. Got that? Linda Laughridge and Jody Gay are cousins. They both remember the Panama City times.

                A man named J. E. Churchwell owned the park. He is credited with giving the area the title of Redneck Riviera. The McCoys booked a Dark Ride, Shooting Gallery, Glass House, Scrambler, Swinging Gym, and kiddies. Bill also operated the Bumper Cars for the Churchwells. Terry (The Viking), who wound up with dozers on Lon McWhorter's Mac's Amusements, and Jo Ellen had the popper and grab joint.

                Jody Gay and her husband, Harley, are now retired. She was with The James Gang Amusements of Andalusia, Alabama. Jody, one of the only non-family members on the show, traveled mostly on the unit with Wayne and Virginia, but sometimes with Rodney and Jesse James, from the early 1990s until she left the road in 2004. She kept her quarters dozers games on the show until 2006. Harley was a singer and teacher of autistic children. After being involved in a motorcycle accident, he now limits his singing to a couple gigs a month, and the church choir. He has often worked the Gibtown trade show.

                When Laughridge and her late husband, Ralph moved to Destin, Florida, they bought the house next to the Turtons, who were active in Protestant ministry, and their daughters, Susan and Sandra. The Osaks and Turtons were so close that when Ethel died, Andy gave one of her treasured rings to Ruth.           

    When Arthur Lamkin bought Johnny's United Shows, Bill and Helen McCoy came out of retirement, and ran the popper. At one time, Grandpa, as Linda refers to Bill McCoy as, was partnered in an amusement park in The Ozarks with Bobby Cooper. Cooper went on to run the entire Bingo operation for the state of Tennessee, and I got to know him well. One of his sons, Steve, drives trucks for carnivals, including for Butch and Ronnie Netterfield, Deggeller Attractions, and Mike Thomas, his cousin on Frank Zaitshik's Wade Shows. Cooper even drove his Harley Davidson Motorcycle from Tampa to Sturgis, South Dakota, a distance of 1,998.9 miles, to scatter the ashes of one of his brothers. 

    I learned late last night of the death of John A. Hobbs, my friend of 61 years, who was a real showman. He was known to just about everybody in the amusement business, and folks were always coming to his bar and restaurant to see him, or calling to inquire about his health. He joined me and Christine at least 20 times at the trade show in Gibsonton, Fla. Hobbs was 91, and thank God, did not suffer. In fact, one of his sons, Ronnie, called me the night before he died to let them know what station a baseball game was on. He gave numerous stars their first breaks, including Randy Travis, Ricky Van Shelton, Lorrie Morgan, and a host of others. Umpire Joe West stopped to see him two days ago on his way to Kansas City. We went shopping every Christmas Eve for the last 50 years or so. I’m going to miss him.

    Please send news to tomp@oaba.org, or call 615 280-7257.

    Have all great days, and God Bless!

  • Wed, June 12, 2019 10:06 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    Tuesday, June 11, 2019 at 1:59 PM
    John Ariale | Principal

    A few minutes ago, the House Appropriations Committee adopted by voice vote an amendment offered by Reps. Pingree (D-ME), Harris (R-MD), and Ruppersburger (D-MD) related to the H-2B cap. 

    This amendment is similar to the language in current law that states that DHS may allow additional visas if the needs of seasonal businesses cannot be filled with US workers, but changes the word “may” to “shall.”  Pingree's amendment – which will be included in the final bill once adopted by the Full Committee later today - requires DHS to release up to 69,320 additional H-2B visas in FY2020 if the demand exceeds the current supply of 66,000.  This word change removes the discretion for releasing additional visas away from DHS.

    In addition to the amendment sponsors, Ranking Member Granger (R-TX), Subcommittee Ranking Member Fleischmann (R-TX) and Rep. Rutherford (R-FL) all expressed support for the amendment.  Subcommittee Ranking Member Roybal-Allard opposed the amendment.  Rep. Fortenberry (R-NE) said he was not taking a position on the amendment but cautioned against foreign workers taking away jobs from America's youth.

    Thanks to everyone who weighed in with their Members of Congress who serve on the Appropriations Committee.  This vote is a significant victory.  As you know, there are many steps in the annual appropriations process, but getting positive H-2B language in the House bill is a significant first step. In addition to working on the annual spending process, we are working with Congress on a long-term solution to address the H-2B cap.

  • Thu, June 06, 2019 6:29 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    As I write this on June 6, the 75th anniversary of D-Day, which culminated in the invasion of Normandy, I find myself humming to the unforgettable tune of “This Will Be The Longest Day,” which it was, I'm certain, for all the military forces that came together for that momentous event.

                I was 11 years old and remember it vividly. As news spread, people were dancing and singing in the streets. The war was almost over, and the troops would be coming home soon. Hilda and Frank Santoro, who recently had purchased Noone’s Drug Store on our neighborhood corner of Bellevue in Scranton, Pa., were giving away free ice cream. Dips had gone from two for a nickel to two for a dime, so it was a big deal. Margie McDonnell, who was behind the counter, had a reputation for giving big scoops.

                We used to collect cans to help the war effort, and I remember some agency of government distributing free apples and blocks of cheese at our Horace Mann, No. 29 Grade School on several occasions. But I also remember that during the war, life went on. West Scranton's football team played Dunmore every Thanksgiving Day afternoon after Scranton Tech and Scranton Central battled in the morning. Nobody could ever beat Coach Johnny Henzes' Blakely Bears anyway, the school where Steve Swika attended.

                I knew and admired many who had been in the Army, Navy, and Marines, never dreaming that at the age of 23, I would receive a letter stating that my friends and neighbors had chosen me to be drafted into the U. S. Army. My two-year tour was mostly uneventful except, perhaps, for one time when I was awakened for guard duty at 3am and forgot to bring my rifle. Luckily, no enemies showed up for the longest hour I've ever spent marching outside a building in Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

                I was fortunate in that my time in service occurred after the Korean War and before Viet Nam, 1956-1958. It was just the luck of the draw, but I still felt lonesome my first three months at Fort Dix, New Jersey. People thank me for my service, just because I was in, but I understand what their thoughts are, and at this particular time of year, it behooves us all to remember what we fought for. Amen!

                “It's time to go to work.” Those are the words being spoken this time of the year from people such as Judy Stevens to her husband, Lee, and Gala Habeck to her husband, Lee, in Gibsonton, Florida. They're all food concessionaires and the Habecks are scheduled to begin another season on June 8 at an annual Youth Carnival in New Brunswick, N. J., where Reithoffer Shows has the carnival midway. “A lot of fairs I play are smaller than this festival,” said Habeck, who seemed anxious to hit the road. I believe he was growing tired of renovating his bathroom, while Stevens sat nearby and kibitzed.

    Habeck was president of the International Independent Showmen's Association in Gibtown in 1987, while Stevens held that honor in 2004. A glutton for punishment, Stevens is the club's current first vice president, meaning he will be president again next year. Only Philip (Pee Wee) Hoskins, in 1985 and 1997, and Wilbur Cooke, in 2002 and 2015 have accomplished that feat before.

                After New Brunswick, the Habecks move with their popper to the Big Butler Fair, Prospect, Pa., a big early date for Powers Great American Midways. Helping out this year will be the Habeck's two grandsons, Ian, son of Andrew and Kim Habeck, and Kincaide Green, son of Jennifer and Jason Green. “We're lucky, as we know a lot of our friends who are depending on foreign labor through the H-2B Visa system and having trouble obtaining their needs.” He mentioned Ray and Patti Hrudka of Reithoffer Shows, and Dennis and Pat Rowland, who travel with Barrett's Fudge, as examples. “Dennis will be booking with Powers while Pat has an independent route. We know others as well. A lot of carnivals, fairs and the customers will suffer because some shows can't get all the rides up,” said Larry.

                Habeck, who started in the business in 1965 when he was 13, was born in Janesville, Wisconsin. His first show was Albert (Bucky) Steele's Steele's Amusements of Valparaiso, Indiana. Steele, an attorney, as well, was longtime treasure of the OABA. “I was in the business a long time before I ever learned that people actually left their joints during workdays. We were in Alexandria, Va., and I heard Bernard Thomas was nearby. I had heard a lot about him and hoped to make his acquaintance. Somebody told me to knock on his trailer door, and when I did, he was sitting there and watching the World Series on his television. I swear I never knew anybody who left the midway and watched TV in their trailer.”

                Lee and Judy Stevens, who spent 10 years traveling with Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, have expanded from one to three food stands this year. One will feature elephant ears, another shaved ice, and the third, lemonade. “We're becoming the Netterfield of the corn field,” Lee laughed. Their season is set to begin June 25 at the Henry County Fair, Cambridge, Illinois.

    Stevens said one of his stands is a stick joint, and he dealt with Kenny Smith of Rocken Graphics and Matt Wilson of Backyard Canvas for the others. Lee and Judy both attended the Florida Federation of Fairs Convention in St. Augustine, and he said, “It was interesting, enjoyable, and well attended.”

    So far, Lee and Judy have played the Florida State Fair, Tampa; Collier County Fair, Naples, and Rhythm and Ribs Festival, St. Augustine. Their route includes dates also in Illinois and Missouri.

    Lee is in charge of the Gibtown Club's annual circus, which draws three sellout crowds each year. It's a labor of love, as is his dedication to the club. “I'm optimistic about this year. The economy is great.”

                Ray Cammack Shows and Dave Helm & Sons Carnival have most of the rides on the independent midway for the May 31-July 4 San Diego County Fair, Del Mar, where Tim Fennell is chief executive officer and general manager. The fair boasts of having 4,188 attractions and 1,879 concerts. Attendance last year was a whopping 1,561,236. This is a true kickoff to the 2019 summer season. Performers include Bando El Recordo, The Fab Four, Jeff Dunham, Neil Sedaka, Christian Nodal, Jake Owen, Creedence Clearwater Revisited, Toby Keith, Smokey Robinson, Mariachi Sol De Mexico, Simple Plan, truTV Impractical Jokers, AJR, The Clark Sisters, Grupo Intocable, Lindsey Stirling, Air Supply, Pitbull, Los Tigres del Norte, KC and The Sunshine Band, Trace Adkins, Dionne Warwick, Brad Upton, Mickey Dolenz of The Monkees, Felix Cavaliere's Rascals, Charo and John Davidson, Ricky Lee Jones, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Bowzer and Johnny Contardo, and Grass Roots. Wow!

                Before the arrival of a golden goose named Jay Bruce, I was about to give up on the Phillies. The Red Sox are disappointing, but can come back, and I believe the Yankees, Dodgers and Astros are the best teams, with the Twins and Brewers playing great ball. Don't count out the Braves or Cubs. Since my son, Tommy, lives in the Twin Cities, I've started rooting for Rocco Baldelli's Bunch.

                Please send news to tomp@oaba.org, or call 615 280-7257.

    Have all great days, and God Bless!

  • Thu, May 30, 2019 8:49 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    May 24, 2019

    Greetings, everyone.

    My what a busy week it has been.  TEAPSPA is back and already gaining ground.  The official language of the bill has not yet been posted on the US Government website.  I will notify you when it is available.  The bill was introduced by Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), who also introduced US HR 2532, which I have added to our chart.  Rep. Grijalva has a 100+ rating with the HSUS Humane Scorecard, which means he took a pro-animal position on 14 scored items plus was given extra credit for leading on pro-animal issues in their assessment. 

    The proposal to ban traveling exotic animal acts in Cincinnati has passed committee and moved to the City Council.  The Cincinnati City Council will meet on Thursday, May 30, 2019 at 2:00 p.m. in Council Chambers, Room 300, City Hall, 801 Plum St, Cincinnati, OH 45202.   

    Mr. Seelbach, the councilman responsible for the introduction of this ordinance, has vowed to take all remaining traveling tigers and elephants and have them placed at a sanctuary.  

    The city of Wausau, WI Public Health and Safety committee has passed an ordinance banning the ownership of bears, elephants, and foxes among other animals deemed dangerous.  Please read the full list here.    This will be voted on by the full common council in their meeting on June 11.  I have attached a contact sheet for the Alderpersons serving on their council.  

    Small update from Lake County, IL discussing banning traveling exotic animal acts:  they have uploaded the following literature from HSUS as their education packet.  We need to get some opposing material in their hands.   

    Please help oppose AL HB244 which would ban ownership of exotic animals.  Thank you to The Cavalry Group for posting the information on their website.  


    Bills Added:

    AL HB 631 - Requires animal welfare organizations and rescues to adhere to the same sterilization rules as animal control shelters etc.   

    US HR 2532 - Grizzly Bear Protection Act

    I added this bill because in its language it states that any rescued or rehabbed grizzly bear can only be taken to an AZA accredited facility.  This excludes other entities that are USDA licensed (like a professional wildlife rehab) or ZAA accredited that can help a grizzly bear in need.  Just a friendly reminder that AZA and HSUS partnered up in 2017.

    US HR 2863 - TEAPSPA

    Bills Removed:  

    Kingman, AZ tabled animal ordinance

    MO HCS-SCS 559 / WAPA

    This week's update

  • Thu, May 30, 2019 8:44 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    On my initial visits to Gibtown I was always amazed at the sights. You could see the bears roaming in the backyard of John Welde. Billy Rogers had all kinds of curious creatures at his shop. When you'd pass the winter quarters of Ward Hall and Chris Christ, you'd see folks practicing their fire eating or sword swallowing skills, and big rides, games and food trailers were set up in most of the yards.

                Thanks to the late Andy and Ethel Osak, who owned Showtown USA, Jim Elliott, Whitey Slaten, Frances Hadsall, Joe Mikloiche, Paul Dell, Nick Lucas, and others, special zoning laws were installed. Every time they're threatened now, guys like Elliott, Larry Habeck, Ivan Arnold, Lee Stevens, and many of the newer breed step up to fight that never-ending battle to keep what was long ago earned.

                One of the first images I remember from back in the early 1970s was the big Cortina Bobs ride that was set up in the back yard of Ken and Barbara Detty. She's running a very successful restaurant business now, but Kenny has been the right-hand man for Joel Golder of Palace Playland Park in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, since he sold his carnival, Funtastic Midways, in 2003. In fact, Detty found a Roller Coaster from Preston & Barbieri of Reggio Emillia, Italy, that would fit the footprint of Old Orchard Beach, and it arrived at the park in June of 2018. “It was a big hit for the rest of the season,” said Detty.

                Due to a vein problem in his legs that has been corrected, Detty missed the Memorial Day weekend which drew record-breaking business. “It took four and a half to five years to put that Coaster purchase together, but it's a beauty.” The ride cost $4 million and is 70 feet high. An adjacent parking lot had to be removed to make room for it. Detty is no stranger to big rides. He booked his Mack of Germany-manufactured Cortina Bobs with Strates Shows, Mile Kaufman's Gooding's Million Dollar Midways, Jerry Murphy's Murphy Brothers Exposition, and Johnny's United Shows when it was owned by Arthur Lamkin. Asked about the difference in being at an amusement park or traveling with a carnival, Detty laughed and said, “at the end of the week, you close the gate and put the padlock on instead of loading up all the trucks.” For Golder, he has refurbished rides, built signs, made sure all the rides had LED lighting packages, helped with all the amenities, including benches, etc. Of Golder, he said, “He's not afraid to spend money and it pays off. He has a first class, beautiful operation.”

                We reminisced that Hickey and Bonnie Culpepper, who spent years with Royal American Shows, also booked with Golder as have other carnival people such as Don Catania and Bobby Cassata, with games. Golder is a good friend of Harold Fera of Rockwell Amusements, Scituate, Rhode Island, and the two always make it a point to attend the various trade shows together, including Gibsonton. Marlo Yhnatko, granddaughter of Hickey and Bonnie, and daughter of Trish, who is with Premier Amusements in Myrtle Beach, S. C., will be spending her first year with games at Old Orchard Beach.

                Born in 1942 in Dayton, Ohio, Detty recalls that his family was “dirt poor. When I was nine, I was sweeping floors at barber shops, stores, bars, and theaters, when a carnival came to town on Halloween. It was owned by Earl Barber, Jerry Barber's father, and he had four or five kiddie rides. I heard somebody who was helping with the electrical work remark that they needed somebody to operate the little airplane ride. They asked if I could and I said I could if they'd teach me. Years later, I left the show, took the Tip Top and booked it with Gooding's, Jack and Mayo Royal, and all over South Florida.” Jerry Barber was awarded the OABA's Pioneer Award in 2015.

                Detty and I share another good memory. The National Association of College Baseball Coaches was holding its annual convention in Nashville, and one of the coaches from a community college in Ocala, Fla., was enjoying the hospitality of Johnny Hobbs's Nashville Palace, when he remarked to me that he would love to get a carnival for a fundraising event. I immediately put him in touch with Detty, whose show covered that area, and they built a relationship that lasted until Detty sold his show, small world.

                I contacted Joel Golder for some comments about Detty, and here's what he had to say. “We've been friends for 50 years. He helped me to get where I am. There is no way I would have the beautiful park we now own if it were not for Kenny. At one time I would say he was the best ride man I ever knew. He's slowing down a bit, physically, but he still has all that knowledge stored inside his head.”

    Speaking of the Sea Viper, Golder confirmed that it was Detty who tracked it down. In fact, there is not a piece we ever purchased that he wasn't involved in. He is a great friend and tremendous asset.” Golder also reiterated that the park enjoyed its biggest opening weekend in history over Memorial Day.

                A couple weeks ago I wrote about a man named Jack Coxman living in a trailer park in Tampa with Butch Netterfield, Joie Chitwood, Danny Fleenor, and Chris Christ, according to Darrell Desgranges, The Mizuno Golf Pro. Desgranges also runs Meridian Entertainment of Traverse City, Michigan, with his partner, Brad Coombs. Darrell's brother, Todd Desgranges, and Joe Blume handle Evelyn Deggeller's Stuart Concessions on Cole Shows of Covington, Va.

                The more I thought about that, the more I figured that Darrell was actually referring to the late Jack Kochman, a thrill show operator, not Coxman. In another place, Patty Dee, concession manager of the Miami-Dade County Fair, pointed that one of the top 10 food grossing operators, Vicki Hunter, was Vicky Lis last year, so I reckon she must have got married. Thanks, Patty!

                I heard from Bill Blake, who was a longtime manager for Ron and Bev Burback's Funtastic Shows in Portland, Oregon. He wrote: “I see from your articles that you are doing well after your surgery. Keep up the good work. I really enjoy your part of ShowTime. Today was a beautiful day at the Pacific. It was the first day of a three-day Razor Clam Dig. It will be the last one until winter comes. I opened my Giant European Slide the first weekend of May.” Blake sent some photos of the razor clams with his wife, Feng Yan, stepson, Hongsen, and grandson, Marcus. It looks like they caught a lot. Blake added, “Hey, how about those Seattle Mariners, best start in years, and it's a rebuilding year at that.”

    Ironically, coincidentally, or whatever, before Golder hung up the phone, he asked how I thought my Boston Red Sox were doing. I said they were doing okay after a very slow start but couldn't sustain without a closer. I admitted Craig Kimbrell was erratic at times in 2018, but more often than not, he was automatic in the ninth inning. Nobody has replaced him. A few hours later, Boston carried a 5-2 lead into the ninth against Cleveland, and wound up losing 7-5, toughest loss of the year. Case closed!

                Please send news to tomp@oaba.org, or call 615 280-7257.

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